PURPOSE : The world of work is evolving and the nature of relationships between knowledge
workers and their employers has changed distinctly, leading to a change in the type of rewards
they prefer. The nature of these preferences in the South African, industry-specific context is
poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to deepen understanding of the reward
preferences of Information technology (IT) knowledge workers in South Africa, specifically as
these relate to the attraction, retention and motivation of knowledge workers.
DESIGN : The research design included a quantitative, empirical and descriptive study of reward
preferences, measured with a self-administered survey and analysed using non-parametric
tests for variance between dependent and independent groups and non-parametric analysis
FINDINGS : This study found that there are specific reward preferences in knowledge workers
in the IT sector in South Africa and that these preferences apply differently when related
to the attraction, retention and motivation of employees. It identified the most important
reward components in the competition for knowledge workers and also demonstrated
that demographic characteristics play a statistically significant role in determining reward
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS : The study’s findings show that a holistic approach to total rewards is
required, failing which, companies will find themselves facing increased turnover and jobhopping.
Importantly, the study also highlights that different rewards need to form part of
knowledge workers’ relationship with their employer in three different scenarios: attraction,
retention and motivation.